Roseville High boys basketball disappointed, but understanding

By: Zachary Manning | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published March 20, 2020

 Roseville High’s Jason Hunter avoids the Macomb Dakota defense in a game earlier this season. The Panthers were 12-9 overall prior to the suspension of play.

Roseville High’s Jason Hunter avoids the Macomb Dakota defense in a game earlier this season. The Panthers were 12-9 overall prior to the suspension of play.

Photo by Sarah Purlee

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Ask any coach around the state and they’ll tell you momentum plays a pivotal role come playoff time.

The Roseville High boys basketball team had gotten hot at the right time and was ready to make another postseason run. Prior to the suspension of play, the Panthers had won nine of their last 12 games.

They were firing on all cylinders, with tough defense leading the way. Roseville led the Macomb Area Conference Red Division in points allowed per game.

Offensively, things were finally starting to turn the corner. After some up and down performances throughout the season, the Panthers hit the 70-point mark in two consecutive games prior to the stop in play.

Under coach Hassan Nizam, Roseville has prided itself on peaking at the right time. They were one win away from a third consecutive district title.

But even with the disappointment, Nizam noted the Michigan High School Athletic Association made the right call in suspending play until things begin to clear up.

“We were excited to play for our third straight district championship, especially the opportunity to do it in our gym with a senior-heavy group,” Nizam said. “The kids were disappointed and devastated, but they completely understood the severity of this situation and that it’s just way bigger than basketball right now.”

It was the tale of two halves for Roseville. The Panthers opened the year with a tough non-conference schedule that included teams like Clarkston High and Orchard Lake St. Mary’s.

That played a role in the 3-6 mark in the first half of the season. The road wouldn’t get easier for the Panthers.

Throughout the league season, the Panthers started to find a groove but couldn’t figure out Macomb Dakota. The Cougars handed Roseville its only two league losses of the year.

The Panthers finished one game behind Dakota in the MAC Red and were 12-9 when play was suspended.

“We played the toughest schedule possible,” Nizam said. “Doing that was a belief that this team was capable of making a run in March and just making sure that we were going to be ready to do so.”

With the season just being suspended, Roseville is holding out hope that it will continue at some point and that it’ll have the opportunity to make a run.

There is also the reality that the Roseville seniors have played their last game. If the season does get cancelled, that would put an end to the careers of a senior class that helped the Panthers win a lot of games, and Nizam is grateful for each of them.

“This senior class really means the world to me. These guys are just special kids. They’re great kids, they’re coachable, they’re good on every account,” Nizam said.

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